Gong – Gorilla, Manchester – 8th March 2022
You can see the headlines now – ‘Band and audience drown together in a sea of love.‘ An evening with Gong and an overflowing of spiraling and dizzying indulgence in celebration of live music – “Behind the meaning is another meaning” indeed.
After a whirling twenty minutes of Forever Reoccurring, that builds, ebbs and flows, showcasing the jazzy and the ambient sides that we can expect over the next couple of hours, we’re greeted with a “Hello playmates! This is something innit!?” from an excitable Kavus Torabi, decked out in fabulously glittery pointy boots. The man who along with a crack squad of compadres – mentions in dispatches for Fabio Golfetti, Ian East, Dave Sturt and Cheb Nettles – who still flies the flag for the prog-psych outfit whose catalogue they’ve treasured and extended.
It looks fabulous too with the LED screens forming a backdrop that plays ever-changing images (allowing a chance to try to ignore the toilet sign that traditional demands should feature in Gorilla stage photos) and occasional green teapots naturally.
The setlist theme for the evening is set with You Can’t Kill Me from the 1970 Camembert Electrique (you can buy the glow in the dark T-shirt with the album design) Gong album – a number that we’re told always takes on a higher significance. Placed immediately after Forever Reoccurring, it’s the old and the new – the ancient and the modern – and you can’t spot the join? Focussing on the two post-Daevid Allen albums, the selection is peppered with trips into the dim and distant but gnome friendly past for a hint of nostalgia in our brave new world.
Kapital – the last song written with the late Daevid Allen – rears its mighty head, played with a force and presence and a sign of the passing of the baton. The current Gong quintet have been a unit for coming up to a decade, give or take, and it shows. As tight as the proverbial, with a sense of improv and knitting together an engrossing patchwork of sound. It’s bright, bouncy and danceable even until Kavus announces that The Eternal Wheel Spins and we’re spun through a kaleidoscope of sound and visuals and then My Sawtooth Wake swings between a juddering funk/soul show and trbal drums and bass thunder.
Perhaps the centerpiece is a beautiful Through Restless Seas I Come – the nod to their inspiration and the brief parting shot as the band leaves the stage respectfully. The screens run through a series of band images, some still with us and some long gone and for a moment we can ruminate yet be buoyed by the thought that we never leave, just move on.
The band returns to another run of quirky, jazzy celebration and some of the nursery rhyme charge of Angel’s Egg. The intensity of the earlier parts of the show matched in Rejoice! – not just a song title, but a philosophy and life motto.And should the thought occur, we won’t get bogged down in the squabbles about whether a band without original members for whatever reason is valid. Gong could easily call itself The Nobs, as Led Zeppelin once famously did, and still be valid. It’s the music man, the respectful continuation of the legacy; the creation of new music under the Gong banner adds weight to the validity and this lengthy tour of the UK and Europe can only add weight to the claim that Gong’s second wind is blowing a gale.
Maybe it’s because Kavus is home. Yes, he might do the wild-eyed, wild-haired, crazy stares, and you can see the bits of Bolan, Barrett, Page and Allen in his look, his demeanor, the shapes he throws and in his aura but he’s the perfect channel through which Gong can continue to move.
Gong online: Planet Gong website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
If you would like to keep up with At The Barrier, you can like us on Facebook here, follow us on Twitter here, and follow us on Instagram here. We really appreciate all your support.
Categories: Featured, Live Reviews
Brilliant gig at the Musician, Leicester on Monday.
Yeah – blown away by this gig – the tour will only get better as the (golden) vibe grows.